Johannesburg - South African farmers may produce 4.8 percent less wheat this season than a year earlier, making it the smallest harvest since 2010, the Crop Estimates Committee said as it lowered the area prediction for the cereal to the lowest on record.
Growers may reap 1.78 million metric tons in the 2014 season compared with 1.87 million tons last year, Marda Scheepers, a spokeswoman for the committee, said by phone from Pretoria today.
It is less than the 1.87 million-ton median prediction by three analysts in a Bloomberg survey.
While South Africa is the sub-Saharan region’s biggest producer of the grain after Ethiopia, it’s still a net importer of wheat, according to US Department of Agriculture data.
The committee decreased its estimate for the area planted with the cereal by 3.3 percent to 468,000 hectares (1.2 million acres) from its July prediction.
A median estimate of three analysts in a Bloomberg survey showed the nation may plant 495,500 hectares.
The canola harvest may be 25 percent bigger at 139,500 tons after the committee raised its prediction for area planted 5.9 percent to 90,000 hectares, the biggest on record.
South Africa may produce 313,080 tons of malting barley, 17 percent more than in 2013.
Wheat for delivery in December fell 0.3 percent to 3,640 rand a ton by the close on the South African Futures Exchange.
The nation raised its forecast for corn production this season 2.1 percent to 14.3 million tons, Scheepers said.
That compares with last month’s 14.02 million-ton estimate.
The median estimate of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for the forecast to be unchanged.
This year’s corn harvest would the largest since 1981, when South Africa produced 14.6 million tons, Scheepers said.
White corn is used to make a staple food known locally as pap, while the yellow variety is mainly fed to animals.
The committee maintained its estimate for output of white corn at 7.7 million tons and increased its forecast for the yellow type 4.6 percent to 6.6 million tons.
The committee kept its estimate for sunflower production at 853,325 tons.
The forecast for soy was maintained at 944,340 tons.
The groundnut-harvest prediction was reduced 5.6 percent to 78,090 tons, while sorghum was increased 5.2 percent to 268,920 tons.
The drybean-production estimate was trimmed 4.5 percent to 82,130 tons. - Bloomberg News